Last time I talked about being diagnosed with cancer – breast cancer to be exact. This time I’ll focus on the mastectomy. It rushed in like a tidal wave, they don’t like to give you time to think or catch your breath. At the same time though it felt like ages between the diagnosis and the surgery.
First Things First
A New Haircut
A few days before the mastectomy, I had my long hair cut off because I knew washing and drying it would be a chore while healing. My sister went with me and had hers cut short too. She’s the best, except when she’s bossy, but she was meek and conciliatory that day. Who knew cancer could tame my wild sister? Cool.
The night before surgery, I cupped the angry, painful thing that used to be my breast in my hand. I thanked it for being a part of me all these years, for feeding my kids, for bringing my husband pleasure and I said goodbye. I told the tumor to enjoy it’s last night and I looked forward to slaying it on the battlefield in the morning.
The Big Prep
Nowadays, you have to scrub your entire body with special soap from the hospital, let it soak for a while, then rinse and wash again before you head to the hospital. It definitely takes your focus off the impending amputation and places the emphasis on the possibility of contracting a horrible flesh eating bacteria during surgery.
When we got to the hospital, they sent my family to the waiting room and then took me into the bowels of the cancer department to run all kinds of tests and do x rays. I hate hospitals and by the time I got to pre-op, my nerves were screeching louder than my lump.
My husband and two of my 3 grown kids came in to see me. I remember searching their faces to get some clue of how they were feeling. They looked scared and worried and simply lost. They needed their Mama to comfort them, but instead, she was the source of their pain. I knew my oldest daughter was in her own hell of anxiety at her home in Tennessee, seven hours away.
My nerves were screeching louder than my lump.
My surgeon came in and said I could have something for my nerves. A nurse and an anesthesiologist introduced themselves to me. Somewhere along the way, I feel asleep.
It Is Done
It seemed like only a moment passed and I woke up with my chest tightly wrapped in bandages. I wasn’t in a lot of pain. I was helped into the backseat of the truck and I talked on the phone to my daughter all the way home. The conversation is not a clear memory but I do remember laughing with her.
Within 48 hours I’d developed fever and chills and a serious UTI. My doctor ordered me to the office. My blood pressure was very low, my temp was high and my white blood count was high. I had gotten a urinary tract infection (apparently a common side effect of a catheter that they failed to tell me about) .
The following days were spent taking antibiotics, pain pills and dealing with the drainage tube and pouch in my chest. I was in pain but it was manageable.
I want you to know that the horror of a mastectomy is not as bad as you imagine it will be.
The drainage tube in my chest, with it’s little pouch to collect fluid was the bane of my existence. Every few days I had to go back to the surgeon and he would drain fluid with a needle. Then it became every two weeks. Finally he removed the tube. Oh happy day!
The phantom pain was crazy. My boob hurt, but it wasn’t there anymore. It itched but there was nothing to scratch. It’s still there in your mind, but it’s not. Weird.
Adjusting to Lopsided Life
It takes a little adjustment to walk and move around when you loose a boob. My arm fell too close against my torso and I kept my arm tucked tightly to protect the amputation sight. My balance seemed lopsided too, until my brain finally accepted it was gone. A dear friend gave me a heart pillow that I kept with me constantly. It helped with sleep and in the car with the seat belt. (A tutorial post on how to make your own heart pillow – COMING SOON).
The mastectomy was easier than I’d imagined. It totally annihilated millions of cancer cells without poisoning my healthy cells. It was a victorious first strike in my war with cancer. I’d won the battle and the lump never saw it coming. However cutting the cancer out was only one of many battles.
Side note from Dana: While I completely respect mom’s decision to have a mastectomy I would like to make mention that removing is not always the necessary or best move when fighting cancer naturally. Depending on different parameters it is very possible to shrink, break up, and eliminate a tumor through nutrition, supplement, and other protocols.
You’re only allowed so much time recovering before your loved ones expect you to leave your bed, your room and finally your house. Eventually you have to quit licking your wounds and get back to living your life and oh yeah, get back to the war on cancer.
I had effectively had millions of cancer cells cut out. Now I had to deal with all the issues that led to cancer’s hostile takeover of my body:
- Killing the remaining cancer cells in my body by strengthening my healthy soldier cells.
- Correcting my pH imbalance.
- Healing the inflammation in my body.
- Strengthening my immunity.
- Using food to fight cancer instead of feed cancer.
- Developing my mental strategy going forward in this fight.
P.S. This is Part Two in a series about my cancer journey. Please read The Cancer Center next to continue the story.
P.P.S If you or someone you love have just been diagnosed with cancer, already on your journey, or looking to prevent cancer and wish to fight naturally then sign up below to get my free cheat sheet checklist for everything you’ll need to get you on your way.